Archive | January 2012

Got Kids? Pray First, Open Mouth Second

Don’t worry about anything. Pray about everything. ~The Bible

It’s been said that the family that prays together, stays together—but do you know just how true that really is? Seriously! A Gallup poll revealed that among married couples who attend church together regularly, the divorce rate is one out of two.  How sad. That’s the same statistic as for marriages anywhere. But get this: among couples who pray together daily, the divorce rate is one out of 1,153. [i] What a difference!

One of the best gifts a couple can give their children (and each other) is the gift of a strong marriage and family life knit together through prayer. Prayer builds unity and intimacy. We become intimate to whom we pray, for whom we pray, and with whom we pray. Prayer is the key to unlocking extraordinary blessings for children and families the way a key unlocks a gate.

Years ago, Doug came up with a slogan for our family that, in our house, prayer should always be “the first response, not a last resort.” I’d go so far to say that prayer has not only been our lifeline to heaven (and sometimes to sanity!), but it’s also been our greatest and most valued parenting tool.

What that’s meant for this mom, specifically, has been to make every effort to pray first, open mouth second. I’ve had to work on it even harder as my kids have grown and become adults.  More often than not, my role is not to fix, not to correct, not to express an opinion … but to pray.  And then step back and trust God. (Yes, hard to do I know. But He always comes through and I’ve learned to trust Him.)

Proverbs 31: 27 says, “She watches over the affairs of her household.” I skipped merrily over that verse for years until one day I just happened to read it at the same time as I was reading elsewhere in the Bible that day. Isaiah 62:6-7 says, “I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the LORD, give yourselves no rest, and give him no rest.”

That jumped out at me. I’m a word person. Both roots of those words—watches and watchman—have similar meanings, “to peer into the distance, observe, watch; to hedge about (as with thorns), guard, protect, attend to”[ii] They can also be translated “lookout” or “doorkeeper.”[iii]

How very cool.  I realized way back then that prayer is one of the most powerful roles a mother can play in her children’s lives. So much more can be accomplished for my kids from my knees than from my mouth! Correction, instruction, suggestions, and advice are all very well and good—and necessary.  But years of experience tell me (and I know many other praying moms who will agree with me) that some of the most powerful breakthroughs I’ve seen with my children have been when I prayed instead of only trying to fix a situation with natural means.

My friend Cindy has a sign posted in her family room, where she can see it every day, that says PRAY BIG. I love it.  I think it’s the perfect mom-slogan. 🙂

Have you PRAYED for your kids today?

This post adapted from my book Prayer-Saturated Kids, by Arlyn Lawrence and Cheryl Sacks, NavPress 2007.


[i] Gallup Poll, 1993

[ii] James Strong, “Strong’s New Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Thomas Nelson, Nashville, TN:1995), tsaphah, Strongs #6822, p. 122; shamar, Strongs #8104, p 145.

[iii] The NIV Exhaustive Concordance (Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI:1990), p. 1598 and 1643.

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A Child’s Original Design

Having five children, ranging in age from 14 through 25, I learned a long time ago that they are all VERY DIFFERENT. What’s important to one means nothing to another. What works for one does nothing for another.  And they ALL have unique interests, personalities, and ways of relating to the world around them. Getting to know each one of them personally, in the special way God has designed them, has been one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of Doug’s and my parenting journey.

Do you know how God has uniquely designed your child, or the children in your life? Have you looked for unique characteristics that give clues to what that design might be—personality traits, character qualities, talents, abilities, spiritual gifts and life callings? Better yet, have you ever prayed and asked God to show you His design for your child?

You can start praying for a child’s design and destiny at any age: when they’re in the womb (as I’m doing now for my coming granddaughter), when they’re in school, when they’re in high school, or even when they’ve left your home. It’s never too early—or too late!

Then, through prayer, blessing, encouragement, and training, you–parent, grandparent, teacher, or other mentor–have the amazing opportunity and privilege to partner with God in seeing His original design for a child come to fruition as that child grows into adulthood. You can help children become who God destined them to be!

“Train up a child in the way he should go,” says Proverbs 22:6, “and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Raise him or her, that is, according to the child’s “natural bent.” The Hebrew meaning of the phrase “in the way he should go” is literally “according to his way.” The Hebrew word for “way” is derek, which means “bent” It refers to a unique inner design or direction. In fact, when referring to our children’s natural bents, I like to use the term “original design.”

As our children grow and mature, and find their way in life and in God’s plan, praying for them according to their original design is one of the ways Doug and I have learned to “let go and let God.” Kids, as they become adults, will inevitably make some decisions or take paths that give parents white knuckles from time and time. We were no exception when we were young adults, and neither are own kids! Interceding for our teens and adult children has helped give us the reminder and confidence of who God says they are, and that He ultimately determines their steps, regardless of what we may see with our physical eyes in the moment.

I want to be sure the prayers I pray for my kids (and soon, grandchildren) will find their way to God’s ears, and then back into their lives by way of a tangible answer. So, with that in mind, I try to align those prayers as closely as possible to God’s heart and will (and not my own)! Finding out and endeavoring to cooperate with His original design for my children is one of the best ways I know to do that. 🙂

Be encouraged.

It’s a journey!

And God is outside of time and space.

He sees the whole picture, for you AND for your children.

You, and they, are in His hands.

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~Jeremiah 29:11

(Adapted from my book Prayer-Saturated Kids, co-authored with Cheryl Sacks, (c) 2007 NavPress.)

Snow, Snow Shoes, and Serendipity

We are buried in seven inches of snow (at least) and another inch of ice on top of that. Terrific and treacherous at the same time. Terrific if you just want to play outside in the glorious stuff or hunker down inside, be cozy, and admire the winter wonderland outside your window. Treacherous if you actually have to drive in it!

Being a prairie girl, I LOVE snow and to be out in it whenever I can. I have fond memories of winters in Winterpeg (LOL), ice skating in our back yard or the neighborhood outdoor rink, building snow forts in our yards and in the playground at school, tobogganing, snowmobiling in neighbors’ fields …

… so imagine my delight when, yesterday, I took my dog for a walk at the park near our house and encountered a neighbor on snow shoes who invited me to join her and give them a whirl!

Snow shoes – now there’s a snow activity I’ve never done and have always wanted to!

When I first saw her, I wasn’t exactly sure what were on her feet, since they looked a bit like short cross-country skis and she had ski poles.  That’s because, in my imagination, snow shoes look like this:

However, nowadays snow shoes are a lot more techno-looking. My neighbor bought hers at REI. She quickly cinched them onto my boots like this:

Then off we went, taking turns. The park near our house has wooded paths and open fields–super fun for snow-shoeing. Loved it. Think I’m going to check out REI and get some for myself. And Doug, if I can talk him into it. More fun to do such things with company, don’tcha think?

In fact, having snow shoes would be a good excuse for excursions to Mount Rainier or Hurricane Ridge to use them.  I could have used a pair of those when we were at Hurricane Ridge last winter; I was sinking in snow up to my thighs trying to walk in it!

(Hurricane Ridge, January 2011, Olympic National Park)

Life is way too short to miss the beauty of God’s Creation in in EVERY season.

Get out and enjoy it!



Perogies and the 12th Day of Christmas

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS – DAY 12: January 6th

What is the 6th of January?

a.  Ukrainian Christmas Eve

b. Epiphany

c. the 12th day of Christmas

d. the perfect opportunity to pig out on perogies and cabbage rolls

Answer: ALL OF THE ABOVE!

January 6th is the proverbial 12th day of Christmas, and it is also the FIRST day – Christmas Eve – of Ukrainian Christmas.  (If I was really orthodox about it, I could start all over with yet ANOTHER 12 days of Christmas if I wanted to. But I won’t. I think I’m finally Christmassed out.)

Why do I care? Mostly because I LOVE perogies and Ukrainian Christmas is the perfect opportunity to indulge in my favorite childhood Ukrainian food. Both of my paternal grandparents emigrated to Canada from the Ukraine. They were both culturally and linguistically German but part of the lingering Ukrainian legacy in our family was – you got it – perogies!  And cabbage rolls!

Growing up in Winnipeg, Canada, where there is a large Ukrainian population, a number of my childhood friends celebrated Ukrainian Christmas. I was always a little jealous that we didn’t, because they always got two rounds of gifts! (Either that or their parents got great deals on buying presents because they could wait and shop the AFTER Christmas sales!)

Nonetheless, we enjoyed the perogies and cabbage rolls.

So guess what we had for dinner tonight at our house? Yep. Perogies. (They taste a lot better than they look.)  But maybe that’s just because I grew up on them.  I’ve linked the recipes if you want to try to make them from scratch. They’re kind of a lot of work, though. So I just stock up in bulk at Costco every time I go to Canada. 🙂

Do you have any favorite foods that connect you to your family history? What are they?  Do share!